Business as usual for Grove at Pimlico


May 18, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

BALTIMORE -- Maryland state steward Phil Grove said it was business as usual Saturday at the Pimlico Race Course.

"The day of racing is magnified by the national attention paid to the Preakness, but our job descriptions stay basically the same," said Grove, a Frederick native. "The year round, we judge each race the same, regardless of the purse structure."

For the three Maryland stewards, there was only one disruption all day -- the $100,000 Gallorette Handicap. There was an inquiry by the stewards and an objection from jockey Jeremy Rose aboard second-place finisher Lady Digby.

But following a film review, the result was declared official: Good news for Roshani, winning trainer Todd Pletcher and winning jockey John Valazquez.


Grove has worked in various roles in the racing secretary's office. On Saturday, he watched his eighth Preakness Stakes from the stewards' stand at Pimlico.

All in the family

In 2004, thoroughbred horse racing official Joe Servis was caught up in the hoopla of the Triple Crown Series when his son, John, saddled Smarty Jones.

The 3-year-old won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes before falling short in the Belmont Stakes.

Fast forward to 2008 and the Charles Town resident still maintains a vested interest in the premier series for 3-year-olds.

His son-in-law, Eddie Plesa Jr., saddled Hey Byrn in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown Series.

Hey Byrn, who finished seventh, was impressive earlier in the year, winning the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes and finishing fourth to Big Brown in the Grade I Florida Derby, both at Gulfstream Park.

Unable to make the Kentucky Derby field because of a lack of graded stakes winnings, the son of Put It Back gave it another try on Saturday.

The 49-year-old Plesa is not a household name in this part of the country as he primarily runs his horses in Florida. He will ship occasionally for major races throughout the country.

In 2006, he was inducted into the Calder Race Course Hall of Fame in Miami. His stable has earned over $1 million in earnings for 14 straight years.

Trainer Plesa also saddled a horse in Friday's Grade I $250,000 Maryland Lottery Pimlico Special.

Front-running Gottcha Gold was beaten at the wire by Student Council in the 1 3/16-mile test.

Pony tales

· Former Charles Town publicity director Frank Carulli is the racing analyst and handicapper for Maryland racing. He listed Brown Bag as a huge 1-2 favorite in the Preakness Stakes.

· The second leg of the Triple Crown Series has been run at seven different distances. The current 1 3/16-mile distance was established in 1925.

· The last Maryland-bred to win the Preakness Stakes was Deputed Testamony in 1983.

· Big Brown joined Majestic Prince (1969), Seattle Slew (1977) and Smarty Jones (2004) as the only horses to remain undefeated after sweeping the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

Larry Yanos covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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